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By Emily Beck

As the Twin Cities prepares to host the 2018 National Football League (NFL) championship game, many locals are busily planning their party menus.

From chicken wings to bacon-wrapped smokies, Minnesotans know how to feed a crowd.

We’re taking an old approach to current favorites with some historical recipes that are ready for a comeback: chicken wings, cheese straws, pretzels, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. 

Chicken wings from 1662

Everyone knows that chicken wings are a Sunday football classic. Here is an old and exciting take on this favorite dish.

From the James Ford Bell Library, curator Marguerite Ragnow suggests “A Frigacy of Rabbets or Chickens,” from Salt and fishery, a discourse thereof by John Collins. Published in London in 1682, this cookbook is already a classic, and is sure to impress.

“Take two Rabbets, quarter them, break all their Bones, clap them into a large Frying-Pan with a Cover, into which put a pint of White-Wine, a pint of fair-Water, half a pound of Bacon thin sliced, two Anchovies, a small bunch of Sweet-Herbs to the value of a farthing, chpt small, two pennyworth of Capers. Let all these simmer or gently fry an hour, then take half a Porringer of the Broth, beat it up with the yolks of six boyled Eggs, put all in a Dish, and squeeze on the juyce of a Lemmon.”

If you’d rather use a modern, chicken-based version of this recipe, Marguerite has kindly provided an updated recipe.

Modern interpretation of “A Frigacy of Rabbets or Chickens”

Adapted from Salt and fishery, a discourse thereof by John Collins. London, 1682.


A Friggacy of Rabbets or Chicken


  • 2 whole chickens quartered ** (or a package of chicken wings)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) white wine
  • 1 pint (2 cups) water
  • 1/2 lb Bacon thinly sliced
  • 2 anchovies or 1 tbs anchovy paste
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme minced
  • 1 tbs fresh sage minced
  • 1 tsp fresh marjoram minced (savory could be substituted)
  • 2 tbs capers
  • 6 egg yolks soft-boiled (about 3 minutes)
  • 1 fresh lemon cut in half with seeds removed
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley chopped


  1. Place all of the ingredients except the egg yolks, lemon, and parsley into a large Dutch oven or cast iron frying pan.* Bring to a low boil on medium heat. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for approx. 1 hour — be sure that the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and place on a serving platter.
  2. Then ladle about about 1 cup of the broth into a small saucepan and stir into it the yolks of six soft-boiled eggs over low heat, until the resulting sauce has the consistency of a rich gravy — add a bit more broth if it is too thick. Pour the sauce over the chicken and squeeze each half of the fresh lemon over the top right before serving. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Recipe Notes

*You may prefer to brown the chicken in 2 tbs of olive oil over medium high heat prior to adding the other ingredients. If so, remove the chicken to a platter after browning, add the wine and scrape loose the browned bits of chicken from the bottom of the pot, leaving them in the pot. Then return the chicken and the other ingredients to the pot and continue as above.

**Bone-in chicken breasts and/or thighs would also work for this recipe. The result is very flavorful, moist and tender; the meat could be taken off the bone and shredded for sandwiches.

Forget cheese curls, try some cheese straws

“A Frigacy of Rabbets or Chickens” will pair well with other finger foods at your Big Game party. For our next selection, cheese curls inspired the selection of a recipe for cheese straws from the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine

This cheese straws recipe comes from an English manuscript recipe book from the 1830s. Emily Beck, Assistant Curator at the Wangensteen Historical Library, has made this recipe and confirms that they are pretty tasty.

Even more exciting, this manuscript recipe book is a new acquisition for the library, so it isn’t in the catalog yet! Here’s your exclusive preview of the cheese straws recipe to impress your friends and family.

Cheese Straws

From an 1830s English manuscript.

Servings: 4


  1. Cheese Sticks“2oz parmesan cheese, 2 of flour, 2 of butter, a little salt and cayenne, and one egg. Beat up the egg and mix all the other ingredients with it and knead well with the hands. Roll out with the rolling pin, then cut strips, carefully placing each strip without breaking it onto a bakery tin previously greased, and bake til a light golden colour. All biscuits require baking in a slow oven to be done right through.” [Note: Emily suggests baking these cheese straws on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes]

Pretzels, anyone?

You are sure to score the winning goal when you serve some soft pretzels alongside your 19th-century cheese straws.

Megan Kocher, curator of the Kirschner Cookbook Collection, thinks these cheesy pretzels are great for any NFL championship game party.

Cheesy Pretzels

From Betty Crocker Sip, Nibble and Snack, 1990.

Servings: 4

Cheesy PretzelsIngredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
  • 2/3 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded (2 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Egg
  • course salt


  1. Heat oven to 400°. Grease cookie sheet.
  2. Mix flour, milk, cheese, margarine, baking powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in medium bowl with fork until soft dough forms. Smooth dough gently into ball on floured cloth-covered board. Knead 10 times. Divide dough in half.
  3. Roll one half dough into rectangle, 12 x 8 inches. Cut rectangle lengthwise into eight 1-inch strips. Fold each strip lengthwise in half. Pinch edges to seal. Twist each strip into pretzel shape. Place seam side down on cookie sheet.
  4. Beat egg in small bowl with fork. Brush pretzels with egg. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack. Repeat with remaining half dough.

Add some bacon

Of course, no party is complete without bacon. Thankfully, Kocher also found this 1937 recipe for “Bacon Roll with Shrimp,” an upscale version of bacon-wrapped smokies that would be a hit at any Big Game celebration.

Bacon Roll with Shrimp

From 10,000 Snacks, 1937.

Servings: 4


  1. Shell cooked shrimps, dip in grated breadcrumbs, and roll in half slices of bacon.
  2. Skewer with small metal skewers or toothpicks and broil until crisp.


That’s six points for the University Libraries’ selection of underdog foods from the past that are sure to win your hearts this year.  

Visit the James Ford Bell Library, the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, and the Kirschner Cookbook Collection for additional historical NFL football party food, as well as for your historical research.

Many of the Wangensteen’s handwritten recipe books have been digitized in case your interested in adding some additional old recipes to your game.

Erinn Aspinall

Author Erinn Aspinall

More posts by Erinn Aspinall

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